Red, White, but mostly Blue

You know there’s nothin’ like the real world to get me down
There’s nothin’ like the world outside that turns me upside down
It makes me feel like I’m headin’ down a one-way, dead-end street

Tesla – No Way Out

I’m not sure whether it’s just a by-product of primary season and/or the state of politics in general but I’ve been writing on this for a while now, starting as the 4th of July holiday drew closer and continuing beyond. I think it finally reached the point where I pretty much had to finish just to get a little of it out of my spleen. Even when I tried to put it aside, repeatedly, there was something almost daily that drew me back onto some part of the same train of thought.

I don’t even know where to start with how down on the state of affairs I am, how virtually hopeless I believe the situation has become for the U.S. as a nation. This is about a lot more than the fencepost turtle currently occupying the White House. Obama is a symptom, he isn’t the problem. It goes beyond useful idiots like Nancy Pelosi, or any of the countless soundbite celebrities who make their way across the TV screens and headlines. It even goes beyond the lack of inspiring or even acceptable candidates coming from the right side of the political spectrum at this point, and the upcoming primary election in Georgia provides as stark an example of that problem as any I can imagine. The fact that “undecided” is my leading candidate for most races on the ballot ought to be a clue to how undistinguished a field we’ll be choosing from, after all, how many of you have known me to lack a strong opinion on pretty much anything?

There’s no specific problem or issue that has left me so almost unbearably pessimistic. If there were I might actually be more hopeful, at least then energies could be focused on improvements and provide some reason for hope however faint. Instead it’s so many things that strike me as having such obvious paths toward progress, even where I fail to see drop-dead perfect solutions (and there’s admittedly relatively few of those to be had) there’s at least a reasonable amount of clarity concerning options that are much better or much worse. Instead we’re seem to be stuck in a grind where there’s barely a majority opinion on anything, we’re stuck on 52-48 and some portion of those actually remain undecided.

That stalemate that depresses me almost as much as anything. Virtually every topic/issue/concern/problem is a perpetual one-inch forward and one-inch back battle akin to World War I styled trench warfare, battling over the same territory over and over, where stalemate substitutes for victory. It’s reached the point that I feel like the victim in the old Jerry Clower story Knock him out John where a coonhunter finds himself trapped in a tree with a bobcat, eventually begging his hunting partners to “Just shoot up here amongst us, one of us has got to have some relief!”

As a nation we’ve become that loveless and dysfunctional marriage that serves no purpose moreso than making each other miserable. Even worse, we aren’t staying together in the name of the children or any sort of noble excuse, we just don’t feel like arguing over who gets the stereo and who gets the crock pot.

Further, the battle lines are drawn even amongst ostensible allies. Regardless of your political affiliation or leanings, it’s pretty impossible to miss how often your aims are often undercut by forces from within rather than without and while that’s great when it happens to your enemies, it’s more than a little disturbing when you’re on the receiving end. Such is the condition we find ourselves in today, where it’s our own “generals” who betray us with such frequency that it’s not even surprising any more. I’m tired of being disappointed, tired of treachery, tired of hypocrisy, and damned tired of being lied to. If you’re going to oppose my aims then at least have the minimal decency to be forthright about it, stop using both sides of your mouth (and constantly seeking a third side to use) and tell me the truth. Even if I hold their positions and actions in complete contempt I can at least muster some sort of respect for a devout foe moreso than a windblown fraud or turncoat.

Finally, I’ve reached the point where I see no good end. I could rail for hours about the multitude of mistakes that have brought us to this point as a country but ultimately the reasons aren’t as influential on my outlook as the immediate reality of the situation. We’re drowning in a collective cesspool of problems largely of our own making and half the weak-bladdered people around the pond are hellbent on adding to the depth of it. Much of the other half seem to lack the strength — of character, of conviction, of wisdom, of ability — to actually pull us from the murky depths but at least they’re interrupting the additional flow occasionally. Meanwhile the handful who might be able to pull us above chin level rarely get near enough to the pool to help because of the teeming masses that surround it. Friends, you’ll just have to excuse me if that makes it hard for me to imagine climbing out of the pool, much less swimming in crystal clear water.

Let me be clear about something that I’m afraid could easily be misunderstood. I’m not suggesting that the battle isn’t worth fighting, in fact I’m further from that belief than I’ve ever been. A quote from Dutch politician and theologian Abraham Kuyper has become a favorite of mine — When the principles that run against your deepest convictions begin to win the day, then the battle is your calling, and peace has become sin. You must at the price of dearest peace lay your convictions bare before friend and enemy with all the fire of your faith. — and that sums up my feelings about the correct course as well as anything could.

No, it isn’t that I’m advocating surrender even in my frustration and despair, ultimately I’m simply lamenting my weariness with the battle itself and trying to deal with the stark reality of the battlefield around me.

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1 Comment

Filed under Personal, Politics

One response to “Red, White, but mostly Blue

  1. Alex

    I guess I feel similarly. At some point Americans lost interest in thinking critically and caring about “civic” issues (politics, economics, etc…). And once they lost interest, it wasn’t that long before they (well, a majority of us, anyway) also lost the ability to think critically about these issues.

    Thus now, more than ever, every politician is a salesman and every piece of legislation or government initiative is a marketing campaign. People don’t want to decide for themselves what to think, they want to be told what to think.

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